The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Karunanidhi letter barb to ‘sister’ Jaya

Chennai, Feb. 4: True to his desire to put literature above politics from now, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi has used his pen to stinging effect by writing an open letter to arch rival Jayalalithaa.

The open letter published today in the DMK organ, Murasoli — and shared with Tamil daily Dinakaran — comes at a time of intense political rivalry between the main Dravidian parties, the DMK and the ADMK, when their leaders do not even wish each other in public.

Not the typical political counter-statement, Karunanidhi’s letter responds to Jayalalithaa’s tirade against his party’s top leadership in the Assembly last week. “I take it (Jayalalithaa’s speech) as a stream-of-consciousness-speech,” he writes.

Jayalalithaa had asked in the Assembly why Karunanidhi was not giving up his MLA seat and the DMK presidentship if he had chosen to place literature before politics from now on.

Packed with irony and innuendos, Karunanidhi calls the letter a “madal”, a kind of poetic composition, and addresses Jayalalithaa as “sagothari” (sister) in keeping with the “courtesy that Tamil culture demands”.

For Karunanidhi, the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s remarks on his literature-politics preferences simply meant an advice to him to “quit politics for good.”

“If I have consciously let literature take precedence over politics in my life from now on, for someone having striven to uplift Tamil Nadu inch-by-inch in the last 65 years, it is born out of a sense of disgust with politics and the new low it has touched in recent days,” Karunanidhi writes.

It is “wiser” to keep away from such politics than to lead it as a “hangdog politician”, he says.

Karunanidhi is particularly annoyed with Jayalalithaa’s allegation at Cuddalore — when she launched the New Veeranam Water Supply Scheme on Sunday —- describing the old Veeranam scheme as “mired in corruption”. The previous DMK regime, under Karunanidhi’s stewardship, had taken up the scheme and subsequently abandoned it.

Jayalalithaa relaunched the scheme to pipe water from the Veeranam lake in Cuddalore to Chennai at Rs 720 crore against vehement political protests that dubbed the scheme “unviable” and a “financial disaster”.

Karunanidhi points out in the letter that even the Sarkaria Commission set up in the mid-1970s to probe charges of corruption against an earlier DMK regime had concluded that the “charge (related to the Veeranam water scheme which then cost Rs 20 crore) has not been proved”.

The DMK chief pointedly writes that he is not “smart enough for the politics of kickbacks and landgrabs”, and juxtaposes letters Jayalalithaa wrote to her political mentor M.G. Ramachandran complaining about various issues.

One of these letters talks about how she found it difficult to “discipline” K. Kalimuthu —now Speaker -— in the party. Another is about her anger with Kamal Hasan for not giving any publicity to MGR when the actor’s film is released.

Karunanidhi also highlights her famous letter to then Congress president Rajiv Gandhi about how MGR was “jealous of her popularity in politics”.

Rounding off his sharp letter, Karunanidhi writes he is unafraid of the consequences of his letter and undeterred by the likelihood that Jayalalithaa could get him arrested again.

Karunanidhi’s latest letter is a variant of his “udan perappe kaditham (letter to my dear brethren)”, which are periodic open letters in Tamil to his partymen and the people, considered a literary marker in themselves.

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